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Public Statements

Now It Is The Time For Health Care Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. HIMES. Mr. Speaker, after years of aspiration and planning, after too many families bankrupted and too many lives lost, this House stands ready to do something both great and necessary. We will soon join every other civilized nation on this planet in offering each and every citizen decent, affordable health care.

For me, a new Member of this body, it has been an incredible exercise in democracy. I participated in more than 60 town hall meetings, visits with doctors, nurses, patients, and listened to advocates with every conceivable point of view. Almost everyone agrees that we must do something and do something bold.

Too many Americans know the fear that losing a job means losing access to doctors and to lifesaving drugs. Too many Americans have watched as illness or injury has driven their family into bankruptcy. Too many small businesses, nonprofits, and small town mayors have seen their budgets wrecked by exploding costs of health care insurance.

Mr. Speaker, several weeks ago in the city of Bridgeport, I met Marta, who lost her job of 23 years and is currently relying on her COBRA coverage to pay for the management of her diabetes. She is terrified. Her COBRA will end soon, and she has been refused private coverage time and time again.

I've also gotten to know a young man named Eugene who makes his living laying bricks. He can only work during the warm weather construction months when he has good coverage through his union, but in the wintertime when he can't work, he joins Marta in the ranks of the fearful. He prays that nothing happens. He asked me, "Even the phone company has rollover minutes. Why not our insurance plans?''

When this House passes the Affordable Health Care for America Act, no American will ever be denied coverage because they have a preexisting condition. When this bill passes, we will begin to close the Medicare doughnut hole so that no senior will have to choose between their prescription and buying food. When this bill passes, our small businesses, our nonprofits, and our mayors will no longer watch as exploding health care costs wreck their budgets.

Is the bill perfect? No. But in this of all things, we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. There is too much at stake--the lives of those who die because they can't see a doctor, the peace of mind of millions of Americans who know that bankruptcy is one illness away, the moral standing of this great Nation that has fallen too short for too long in keeping its people healthy.

Mr. Speaker, now is the time. Mr. Speaker, "yes'' is the answer. I join my colleagues in urging that tomorrow we make history.

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